When was Emanuel born? Can you prove it?

Since HAFS was founded in 1990, all its publications have stated that Emanuel Hungerford, patriarch of the Australian Hungerfords, was born in Co Cork on 1 February 1785. My new set of posts on the Ancestry of Emanuel Hungerford aims to provide evidence for the names, relationships, dates and places and items of interest about each of his ancestors. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I couldn’t find any primary evidence for the most fundamental fact of all: Emanuel’s date of birth.

I became interested in family history as a teenager. I first learned of my descent from Captain Emanuel Hungerford thanks to information shared by my great-uncle, Canon Mel Newth, in 1985. However, nowhere in my notes (going back to the 1980s) is there a source for the date of Emanuel Hungerford’s birth.

There is little doubt Emanuel was born in or about 1785. His age was reported as 43 on the 1828 Census of New South Wales, and  as 87 years when he died in 1872. We know that he was born to John and Ann (nee Daunt) Hungerford in Co Cork, though exactly where has never been ascertained. The survival of Church of Ireland baptismal registers for Cork is very patchy, and no entry of baptism has surfaced. Unsurprisingly no birth notice for Emanuel has been found in any of the early Cork newspapers, in a period when birth notices were rare and the birth of a sixth son was wholly unremarkable.

After much searching, the earliest source of information I can find for Emanuel’s birthday is the entry for “Hungerford of Inchidoney” in the 1912 edition of Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland. (The date is not included in earlier editions.) On p 331, we find the following:

Emanuel, Capt. S. Cork Militia, formerly Lieut. 32nd Foot, emigrated to Australia, 1828. He was b. 1 Feb. 1785; m. 1 Feb. 1813, Catherine, dau. of Dr. Loane, and d. at West Maitland, N. S. W., 1872, having had issue. 

Burke’s proceeds to give the names of his children and grandchildren. The most detail is for the family of Septimus Hungerford, who in 1912 was still going strong at the age of 87. This suggests Septimus (or one his children or grandchildren) might be the source of the names and dates included in Burke’s.

But here we hit a snag.

The entry contains several mistakes. For starters, Emanuel only served in the one company, the South Cork Militia otherwise known as the 32nd Foot in the Irish Militia. His wife Catherine was the granddaughter, not the daughter, of Dr Loane. And most significantly, Emanuel and Catherine were married on 2 October 1813, not 1 February, as shown by the parish register of St Peter’s Ballymodan (Bandon) and the marriage notices in the Cork newspapers.

Saunders Newsletter for Saturday 9 October 1813 p3

It’s entirely possible Emanuel Hungerford really was born on 1 February 1785. But does anyone have any evidence to prove it?

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